Saturday, March 10, 2012

Urinary Accidents

by Nancy Kay, DVM  

When your wonderful dog, who has always done his or her “business” outside, begins leaving puddles in the house, please do not default to the notion that this is a behavioral issue.  It is highly unlikely your dog is mad at you for sleeping in on Sunday mornings or jealous because you showed some affection to your neighbor’s dog.

Chances are, the inappropriate urination is a result of an underlying medical issue.

Well house-trained dogs would rather urinate anywhere other than inside their own home.

I have big brown eyes and can make you feel guiltySeveral types of medical issues are capable of disrupting normal house-training.  

Bladder infections, stones, and tumors create an urgency to urinate even when the bladder contains only a small amount of urine. Prostate gland disease (more common in boys who have not been neutered) can disrupt normal urinary habits. Increased water intake may overwhelm a dog’s normal eight to ten-hour bladder capacity.

Common causes of increased thirst include a variety of hormonal imbalances, kidney failure, and liver disease. Commonly prescribed medications such as prednisone (a form of cortisone) and furosemide (a diuretic or “water pill”) typically cause increased thirst.

Some dogs develop urinary incontinence (involuntary urine leakage).

This is more common in females and is usually a result of relaxation of the muscular sphincter that normally prevents urine from flowing down the urethra- the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside world.  The urine leakage may be constant, but more commonly it occurs as the bladder distends during the night while the dog is soundly sleeping.

In most cases, urinary incontinence can be successfully managed by correcting the underlying cause and/or treating with medications that “tighten up” the urethral sphincter.

If your dog has a break in house-training, please don’t respond with a reprimand.  Far better to schedule a consultation with your veterinarian.

Has your well house-trained dog ever urinated in the house?  Were you and your vet able to determine the cause?


Nancy Kay, DVM

Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Please visit to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.

Articles by Dr. Kay:
Reasonable Expectations: The Ability to Discuss Your Internet Research With Your Vet
Finding Dr. Wonderful And Your Mutt's Mayo Clinic: Getting Started
Even The Best Veterinarian Can Make A Mistake
A Different Way to Spay
Making Tough Medical Decisions For Your Dog: Lily's Story
If You Don't Know What A Lick Granuloma Is, Count Your Blessings!
Anesthesia-Free Dental Cleaning


  1. I have a 15 year old Border Collie who seems to "forget" sometimes when he is in the house now. I have him wear a belly band in the house and it "reminds" him. Belly band on - no accidents, off - sometimes accidents.

    He has no medical issues - visit's the vet on a regular basis, so I believe in his case, it's plain old age.

    1. Belly band? Interesting. I have to look that up.